Verbals

Verbals are words that look like verbs but are not playing the role of a verb. Take a look at this example sentence:
The smell of the flowers reached my nose.” Don’t hesitate to also check our 236 free and powerful practice tests

The next lesson: Predicates, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

What is the subject of this sentence? Well, our first impulse would be to say that “flowers” is the subject, because it’s right next to the verb “reached“. In fact, I’ll underline “reached” twice because it’s a verb.

But, “flowers” is not the subject of the sentence, because the “flowers” don’t reach my nose. The “smell” reaches my nose. And this may confuse you, because you think “smell” is a verb, but in this case, “smell” is actually a noun, and it’s playing the role of the subject of the sentence, in this case.

Now, think of another sentence, like:

I smell cake.”

In this case, “I” is the subject, and “smell” is the verb. So, the word “smell” can play different roles. In this sentence, it’s playing the role of a verb, but in this sentence, it’s a verbal and it’s playing the role of a noun, and as the subject of this sentence.

Look at another example:

Swimming is enjoyable.”

Here, the verb is “is“, and the subject of the sentence is “Swimming“, but “Swimming” could also be the verb of a sentence. But, in this case, it’s a verbal so it’s playing the role of a subject.

Verbals can also be the object of a preposition, like this sentence:

I am not pleased about going.”

So, “I” is the subject, and “am” and “pleased” is the verb, “about” is a preposition, and “going” is the object of the preposition. So, “I” is the subject, “am” and “pleased” are the verbs, so, then what is “going” if “going” is not a verb? Well, “about” is a preposition, and every prepositional phrase and every preposition have an object of the preposition. So, “going” is the object of the preposition.

Why is it the object of the preposition? Because it further explains the preposition.

Now, look at this sentence:

I hate taking my medicine.”

I” is the subject, and “hate” is the verb. Now, the temptation here is to think that “taking” is the verb, or that “hate taking” collectively is the verb phrase. But, “hate” is the only verb here. “Taking” can sometimes play the role of a verb, but in this case, it’s a verbal and so, it’s the object of the verb. That’s the role “taking” is playing. That’s the role that “taking” is right there, it’s the object of the verb.

Alright, last example:

Listen to the soothing music.”

Listen” is the verb, so “soothing” is not the verb, so what is “soothing” doing right here? Well, “soothing” is describing the “music“, because it’s telling you more about the music. It’s describing the music. It’s telling you the music is soothing. So, what is “music“? Well, “music” right here is just a noun. So, “soothing” is describing “music“, and any word that describes a noun is an adjective. So, here, “soothing” is playing the role of an adjective.

So, remember, a verbal is just a word that looks like a verb but is playing a different role in the sentence.

Practice tests help you remember. Take this mini-test to solidify your memory.

The next lesson: Predicates, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

verbals




Do you have questions? Click here to contact us.